By Angelique Fiske, QBSN Publishing Editor
To begin the 2012-13 season, the No. 2 Quinnipiac Bobcats (18-3-3, 11-0-1 ECAC) went 0-for-31 on the power play. With a game-winning power-play goal, Connor Jones (Montrose, British Columbia) put that statistic behind his team. Seventeen unbeaten games behind.
The Bobcats continued their streak in front of a sell-out crowd with a 2-1 victory over the UConn Huskies (9-11-2, 6-8-1 AHA).
“Quinnipiac’s an outstanding hockey team, and they deserve the rankings that they’re getting and the publicity they’re getting,” UConn interim head coach David Berard. “They’re a really good hockey team. They have a lot of different things that they can do to test you as a team.”
A slap shot off the stick of sophomore Matthew Peca (Petawawa, Ontario) opened up scoring for the Bobcats in the first period. Jeremy Langlois (Tempe, Ariz.) and Clay Harvey (Gull Lake, Saskatchewan) earned the assists for their 11th and 12th respectively.
The Huskies brought themselves back into contention when Jordan Sims broke up a pass and shifted the puck to Billy Latta. With momentum on his side, Latta streaked by the Quinnipiac defenders, drew Eric Hartzell (White Bear Lake, Minn.) out left and shot right.
Despite UConn goalkeeper Matt Grogan turning away 48 shots in the game, the Bobcats broke through late in the final period. As Peca kept a rebound alive, shooting it off to Langlois, Jones skated in to put the puck to rest, capping the 2-1 lead.
“He’s a big time player for us,” head coach Rand Pecknold said of Jones. “He’s been a little frustrated this year that his numbers are down, but he’s been playing great.”
That frustration turned jocular with the game-winner in the books.
“I wasn’t missing that one,” Jones said with a laugh.
Though the Bobcats came out on top, Pecknold made note of the goaltending that held the game together.
“Grogan was outstanding. He was the best player on the ice,” Pecknold said. “You’re going to run into hot goalies. It’s not the first time. We’ve had Hartzell do it to other teams in the past. It’s part of the game, and you’ve got to be ready.”
Grogan earned the praise of Pecknold, but the crowd earned that of Jones.
“The guys are just lifted to the next level. It’s been fantastic,” he said. “It’s been the best year of my three years here.”
The increase in community support comes as no surprise as the team also earned first place honors in the PairWise Rankings.
As the team waits until Feb. 1 to test its luck at Brown, the rankings and polls get pushed aside and humility takes over.
“We haven’t done anything yet,” Jones said.
With an undefeated ECAC Hockey record, this modesty will keep the Bobcats grounded facing the remainder of an all-conference schedule.